Boasting a career that features five decades of relevance, the London-based quintet Fleetwood Mac have long cemented their legacy as one of rock 'n' roll's most brilliant groups. While the group's explosive chemistry and eccentric personalities have led to vicious in-fighting and numerous personnel changes, it also had a strong hand in the powerful music that they made through their career.
Of all the big personalities, none was bigger than the band's drummer and founding member, Mick Fleetwood, known predominantly for his eclectic drumming, massive stature (6'6), and penchant for hard partying. In 1967, guitarist Peter Green left the group John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, and he quickly recruited Fleetwood to form a new band. They attracted bassist John McVie, and added Jeremy Spencer as a second guitarist. On their debut release, Fleetwood Mac (CBS, 1968), they were very much a blues band, almost unrecognizable when compared to the slick rock 'n' roll that would become their trademark sound.
By the turn of the decade, Peter Green was on his way out of the band, due to his deteriorating mental health. Heavy LSD use had brought about debilitating schizophrenia for the guitarist. In May 1969, Christine Perfect (better known as Christine McVie), John McVie's wife, made her first appearance with the band. McVie would become a core member of the group and an active songwriter. After a turbulent beginning to the '70s, the group's luck would change. While in a southern California recording studio, an engineer played Fleetwood a song from Buckingham Nicks (Polydor, 1973), the first release from the team of Lindsey Buckingham and Stephanie "Stevie" Nicks. Buckingham happened to be in the studio, Sound City, working on some tracks and was introduced to the drummer. He accepted Fleetwood's offer to join the group, on the condition that his girlfriend and musical partner, Nicks, could join as well.
After more than a half-dozen departed members, the group had finally settled. Buckingham would play guitar and sing. Nicks would focus primarily on vocals. While John McVie would play bass, Christine tackled the keyboards and added some vocals, and Fleetwood would handle the drums and various percussion. Their first effort as a unit was their 1975 mega-hit, Fleetwood Mac (Reprise). The record sold over five million copies stateside, and shot them to the top of the charts. The excellent release features classics such as the powerful Nicks-penned "Landslide" and Christine McVie's soaring, "Over My Head."
From there, the group would go on to release many classic albums, especially their next release, the massive, Rumours (Warner Bros, 1977). The record has sold around 20 million copies, and Rolling Stone Magazine named it the 25th greatest record of all time. However, internal tensions were ever-present, and they only made three more records until Buckingham left in 1987. They only could keep Nicks for one more record, as she left after their 1990's marginally successful, Behind the Mask. While it looked unlikely that Buckingham and Nicks would ever rejoin the group, the quintet reformed in 1997 for a concert recording called, The Dance (Warner Bros). Though the group's star had fallen, they were quickly back in the spotlight, moving over five million copies in US.
The group, sans Christine McVie, released Say You Will (Reprise) in 2003, which was accompanied by extensive touring. To date, they are continuing to record, tour, and make a mark on the global scene like few other bands have been able to do in the long history of rock 'n' roll.